Portrait of a Boy

 
Artist
Creation date
Materials
oil on canvas
Dimensions
34 x 30 in. 42 x 38 in. (framed)
Credit line
Gift of the Friends of American Art
Accession number
34.5
Collection
Currently On View

This canvas depicts Meredith Hare.  His mother asked for a formal portrait.  Bellows complied, but he also painted this more casual likeness.  Mrs. Hare could not decide between the two, so she took neither.

Bellows was a member of the Ashcan School, whose artists preferred unglamorized images.

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Urban Realism

George Wesley Bellows

Portrait of a Boy, 1921

oil on canvas

34 x 30 in.

Gift of the Friends of American Art

Learn More

George Bellows was born in Columbus, Ohio and attended Ohio State University where he provided illustrations for the school’s student yearbook.  Before graduating, he left Ohio State to study art in New York City where he became a student of Robert Henri at the New York School of Art.  Bellows became associated with Henri’s group which was known as “The Eight” and the Ashcan School. He taught at the Art Student League of New York, while painting urban New York scenes depicting working-class people.  His most important work was his series of paintings portraying amateur boxing matches.

Bellows’s fame grew and he began to receive portrait commissions from wealthy New Yorkers.  In addition to painting, Bellows made important contributions to lithography and created more than 100 images. During his later career, he illustrated a number of books, including several by H. G. Wells. 

Portrait of a Boy depicts Meredith Hare, the young son of a wealthy family living in Tuxedo Park, New York.  In a letter to his wife, Bellows wrote that Mrs. Hare had asked for a picture of her son in a stiff white collar and formal pose.  Bellows fulfilled her request but then executed this portrait, which reveals the details of loose, soft clothing, tousled hair and inquisitive expression, the sitter’s charmingly boyish character.  Unable to decide which portrait she preferred, Mrs. Hare took neither.  

Reference

Mahonri Sharp Young.  The Paintings of George Bellows,  New York City: Watson-Guptill Publications,  November 1973. ISBN-13: 978-0517164754